An Address by the Chairman of INEC, Prof. A. M. Jega on Preparations for the rescheduled National Assembly Elections (Affected Sen. & Fed Const. inserted)

When the Commission last Saturday, April 2nd, 2011, rescheduled the National Assembly elections, it stated very clearly that the elections will hold this Saturday, April 9th, 2011. We are happy to say that the elections will go ahead this weekend as planned. We as a Commission fully appreciate the enormous sacrifices made by millions of Nigerian voters who turned out for the exercise on the 2nd of April. I urge you to also do the same this weekend.

Since the postponement, the Commission has worked tirelessly to address the challenges observed in the conduct of the rescheduled elections.  Thus, result sheets have not only been delivered to the country, but have been received by states and Local Government Areas nationwide.  Similarly other election materials needed at the State and Local Governments have been supplied.  Logistic challenges have been addressed and we have had further consultations with political parties, security services and other stakeholders to address other challenges that emerged last Saturday. Consequently, all is now set for the National Assembly elections to hold across the country on Saturday.

However, some challenges emerging from the fact that voting took place in some areas in spite of the postponement require more time than we have had since last Saturday. For example, in some areas a good quantity of ballot papers had been used and it is not possible to reprint enough replacement ballot papers before the elections. Also, in a few constituencies, party names and logos were missing on ballot papers. While some of these resulted from human errors in compiling the names of qualified candidates and parties for the elections, others are related to sudden changes emanating from several judicial pronouncements on party nominations.  These challenges dictate that fresh ballot papers be printed prior to conducting the elections.

The Commission has made strenuous efforts to get these ballot papers printed within the available time; but given the security requirements of the printing of ballot papers and the inability of domestic and international companies to deliver on time, it has become imperative that sufficient time be given for the printing of these ballot papers. Consequently, while elections will in general take place next Saturday, it has become inevitable to postpone elections in a few affected constituencies, that is 15 Senatorial Districts and 48 Federal Constituencies which are as follows: [See Attached]

I should say that the postponed elections affect only about 14% of all Senatorial Districts and 13% of Federal Constituencies. This means that elections will take place this Saturday in 86% and 87% of Senatorial Districts and Federal Constituencies respectively.

Elections in these affected constituencies will now hold on Tuesday the 26th of April 2011 together with the Governorship and State Assembly elections.

For purposes of clarity, it is not everywhere that voting took place last week that is affected by this rescheduling. In some areas, only very few ballots were used, which means that elections can go on unhindered in those places this Saturday.

I want to seize this opportunity to advise all voters to be orderly and peaceful during the elections. Those who choose to stay behind after voting must be orderly and non-violent. I appeal to political parties to implore their supporters to eschew violence. We are working closely with the security agencies to arrest political thugs and vigilantes. Also, underage voters will be arrested. I appeal to parents and community leaders not to allow their children to indulge in this illegal act.

We also noticed last Saturday that some Governors did not comply with the appeal to them not to move around with their security orderlies during the elections. Although we recognize that Governors are Chief Executives of their States, I once more appeal to them to vote and return home in order to reduce political tensions during the elections. Security agencies will strictly enforce compliance with this directive.

Let me once again thank Nigerians for their understanding and support for the Commission in its efforts to deliver free, fair and credible elections. I urge you all to come out on Saturday, April 9th, to exercise your right to vote.

Professor Attahiru M. Jega, OFR,

Honourable Chairman